Philosophy and Literature 28 (1):165-179 (2004)
: In 1999, Philosophy and Literature gave the top prize in its annual Bad Writing Contest to Judith Butler, and the national press echoed the journal in denouncing critical theory as overblown, jargon-ridden, and ungrammatical. Academic theorists reacted with pique, but not a soul in the public sphere came to their defense. Now, the professors have issued an anthology justifying their prose and denouncing Denis Dutton and other critics of bad writing. They claim that bad, or rather "difficult" writing has a critical thrust: to break down common sense and dismantle unjust social notions.They fail to make their case. Much of the writing is, alas, bad. Entries offer tendentious, petulant reactions to the hubbub. Rarely do they address the basic point of the contest: that humanities professors no longer respect ideals of wit, eloquence, and learning. Instead, we have another parade of academic parochialism and radical chic passing itself off as adversarial culture and social justice
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